When it comes to Muslim-related issues we, in Britain, do things differently. We do not ban the full-face face veil (niqab) which is worn by some Muslim women – unlike in France and Belgium. And we do not ban mosque minarets unlike in Switzerland.
However, we sometimes have a nasty habit of 'over-cooking the egg' when it comes to dealing with Muslim-related issues. Sections of our media and political elites can initiate free-fall discussions that focus disproportionately on our Muslim citizens and their lifestyles; they often create a national hype and debate that can go on and on until something else comes up.
One of them is the face veil.
The first debate on this in recent years was initiated by none other than Labour's senior 'Muslim-friendly' politician Jack Straw. In October 2006 he wrote in his local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, that he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils at his Blackburn constituency surgeries. His comments got widespread national publicity. In 2010, Jack Straw publicly apologised over his 2006 comments.
Very recently the face veil issue has again gripped our national media. It started last week when the Birmingham Metropolitan College decided to ban Muslim veils in the campus. But students accused the college of racial and religious discrimination; the NUS Black Students' Campaign came up with 9,000 online signatures against the college decision and, ultimately, the college backed down. With this and a continuing court case involving a veiled Muslim woman, the debate has now gone viral in the media world.
Written By: Muhammad Abdul Bari
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